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Here are the new metal releases for the week of February 19, 2017 – February 25, 2017. Release dates are formatted according to proposed North American scheduling, if available. Expect to see the bulk of these records on shelves or distros on Friday unless otherwise noted or if labels and artists get impatient. Blurbs and designations are based on whether or not I have a lot to say about it.

See something we missed? Goofs? Let us know in the comments. Plus, as always, feel free to post your own shopping lists. Happy digging.

Please note: this is a review column and is not speculative. Any announced albums without preview material will not be covered. Additionally, any surprise releases which are uploaded after this is published will not be covered. This week: Fjoergyn - Lvcifer es.

send Jon your promos at jon@invisibleoranges.com. Do not bother him on social media.

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Manetheren - The End | Avantgarde Music | Atmospheric Black/Doom Metal | United States
Glorious, epic, heartfelt black metal from this long-standing act. Check back on Thursday for an exclusive full-stream.

Aseethe - Hopes of Failure | Thrill Jockey | Drone/Doom/Post-Metal | United States

Aseethe’s Hopes Of Failure takes the long view. The record’s four tracks are unerringly patient, taking time to inch from one note to the next. It’s music that forces you to zoom out and look at the big picture. The view isn’t pretty. Aseethe’s lyrical focus on environmental issues isn’t just set dressing, it’s expressed in the fabric of their music. Like many doom metal bands before them, Aseethe evoke forces much larger than themselves, in this case the natural world and its steady destruction. Hopes Of Failure puts the dull dread of environmental catastrophe back into focus by building an enormous sound and letting it decay endlessly. Even though this album dials back on the band’s noisiest impulses, they still have a noise act’s ear for texture. They repeat each motif consistently for long periods that force you to notice the way each instrument breaks down, the unique crackle of an amp or the sound of a cymbal crash bouncing off a wall. The record ends with a swell of static slowly eroding the entire band leaving a hostile and barren landscape, horrifying in its emptiness.

-Ian Cory

Dreaming Dead - Funeral Twilight | Hammerheart Records | Melodic Death Metal | United States

From Joseph's premiere of the album:

"It’s been too long since we last heard from California’s Dreaming Dead. The band’s last album, Midnightmares dropped five years ago. Since then, vocalist and guitarist Elizabeth Schall has lent her lead guitar skills to grind act Cretin, which may explain the relative brevity of Dreaming Dead’s newest, Funeral Twilight. It’s a quick ride, but the band packs a lot of oddness into these eight songs. The record feels like a nostalgic throwback to that sweet time around 1995 when old school death metal bands began experimenting with Gothenberg-ish melody. Expect a high number of solos per song, especially considering how brief these tracks are."

Unearthly Trance - Stalking the Ghost | Relapse Records | Sludge/Doom Metal | United States

From Joseph's premiere of "Famine":

"To be completely honest, none of Lipynsky’s projects ever resonated very strongly with me, but I do very strongly remember the one winter I spent in New York City, when I first heard their then-new album Electrocution, and thinking they did have an uncanny skill for capturing the sense one gets when stepping up out of a relatively warm subway tunnel into one of Manhattan’s frigid wind-tunnel streets. It’s a sensation many bands reach for, but Unearlthy Trance do grab it, and reliably. It’s there on “Famine” as well. The song’s climax, a bluesy solo, injects a little warmth into the tail end of it. Unearthly Trance are rising from the underground, but now they sound like they’re descending into something molten."

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OF NOTE

Asofy - Nessun luogo | Avantgarde Music | Black/Doom Metal/Darkwave | Italy

From my premiere of Nessun luogo:

"Upon listening to Asofy’s third album, Nessun Luogo, their status as a black or doom metal band immediately comes into question. Multi-instrumentalist Tryfar’s (also of Sleeping Village, who could use some new material) instrumental work speaks to the sadness found in “depressive black metal” and the slow lethargy of doom metal, and Empio’s empty howls certainly echo the resignation of bands like Strid, but the actual execution places Asofy in a separate category, if only superficially. On the surface, Nessun Luogo has more to do with darkwave, post-rock, and maybe even some later-Earth-styled drone/doom metal, but it feels like a doomed black metal album, feeding off that feeling of desperation which is integral to so many great black metal releases. Thus inspires a philosophical debate – is intent separate from execution? Moreover, when does music fully depart from genre? Do such constraints even matter? Asofy’s uncomfortable, sparse, dark music draws from so many sources that its horizons appear to be limitless, but Nessun Luogo also feels like a genre distillation, if only based on emotion. The meditative, haunting music found on this album is the embodiment of what brought black metal from the second wave to this point in time."

Draugsól - Volaða land | Signal Rex | Black Metal | Iceland
More progressive, technical black metal from Iceland, and, again, in the same sort of vein as Zhrine. Not bad, by any means, but the timing of their arrival, given the movement of their surrounding scene, renders Volaða land a drop in a rapidly filling water pail.

In Thousand Lakes - Age of Decay | Xtreem Music | Melodic Death Metal | Spain
With a name like "In Thousand Lakes," I was expecting something a little more Amorphis-y, but I was surprised to find some competent Clayman-era In Flames worship. Melodic Death Metal might be a four-letter-word in today's standards, but it isn't always the worst thing in the world.

Sunless - Urraca | Independent/Digital | Progressive/Avant-Garde Death Metal | United States

From my premiere of "The Ancient Ones":

"Though this trio’s musical proficiency is immediately apparent, Sunless’s approach is more restrained and motif-based, utilizing their talents in a more “song-oriented” setting instead of the “play until we can’t anymore” approach which characterizes technical music in general. Note the slower, more melodic introduction to their song “The Ancient Ones,” Sunless’s music isn’t about showing off or being guitar heroes, but instead champions intricate, interesting songwriting with the chops to bolster it. Making catchy, memorable music is more of a feat than simply shredding, which makes Sunless a more interesting entity in a field of fluttering fingers."

Skogen - Eld | Nordvis Produktionen | Folk/Black Metal | Sweden
It's not about reinventing the wheel, it's about sharpening your skill, and Skogen have spent the past decade doing just that. If you like Ulver's Trilogie, which actually turns twenty next month, Skogen's epoch-worship recalls the glory of Bergtatt's heyday in the best way possible.

K.L.L.K. - Le Brasier des Mondes | Caligari Records | Atmospheric/Experimental Black Metal | France
Strange, bizarre black metal, atmospheric more in a cavernous sense rather than the skyward gaze of the "new school." You like ossuaries?

Celestial Rite/Funeral Storm - Funeral Rite | Iron Bonehead Productions | Black Metal | Greece
All hail Hellas!

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FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

Tervahäät - Kalmonsäie | Nordvis Produktionen | Experimental Neofolk | Finland
For a genre based in conservative stylistic tendencies, neofolk's rare forays into new territory mark the genre's versatility. Tervahäät's harsh ambiance and banjo-laced wintry landscapes are frigid, but feature a unique warmth hidden beneath their frost.

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FROM THE GRAVE

Spectral Wound - Terra Nullius | Arcane Angels | Black Metal | Canada
Echoing the (more melodic) Finnish masters, Spectral Wound rips through six tracks of rabid black metal fury.

Barren Canyon - Close The Circle | Arcane Angels | Ambient Black Metal | Canada
Featuring the man behind Spectral Wound, Barren Canyon's brand of black metal is much more meditative and awash with sound. The project's Bandcamp genre tags cites "True Nordic Spa Metal," which might be a joke, and yet I still feel relaxed and bathed in steam.

Awe - Providentia | Osmose Productions | Progressive Black Metal | Greece
Awe is daring, calculated, and gazes inward. This Greek trio's intricate, discordant black metal is both intensely spiritual and oddly detached. I already own the Pulverized Records pressing of this album, but I'm sure the larger reach of Osmose will do this mammoth release more justice.

Rebel Wizard - Triumph of Gloom | Prosthetic Records | Black/Heavy Metal | Australia
Judas Priest is pitted against early-black metal-era Darkthrone in the Nekrasov mastermind's new pet project.

Taarenes Vaar - Demo Sessions 1996-1998 | Arcane Angels | Avant-Garde Black Metal | Norway
I have a tendency to repeat my belief that black metal has always been strange, generally citing Written in Waters pre-dating Filosofem, but Norwegian weirdos Taarenes Vaar, featuring graphic designer Kim Sølve (Trine + Kim Design), preferred to languish in the shadows. Though eventually resurfacing under the Manimalism moniker, these demos from the mid-90s highlight the historic constant of stylistic transience in black metal.

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OTHER RELEASES

Ex Deo - The Immortal Wars | Napalm Records | Symphonic Death Metal | Canada
Given Ex Deo's more traditional "modern" melodic death metal tendencies and riff work, the symphonic elements found in The Immortal Wars, which are actually pushed far into the background, seem more like a kitschy afterthought.

Trollfest - Helluva | Napalm Records/NoiseArt Records | Folk Metal | Norway
Sure, some folk metal can be fun. BUT, a lot of it can be a joke. This...this is a joke.

Persefone - Aathma | ViciSolum Productions | Progressive/Melodic Death Metal | Andorra
From the unlikely Andorra (which actually has a thriving metal scene), Persefone definitely impressed me with 2006's Core, and the progressive, almost jazzy approach continues to dazzle on Aathma, but the attempts at early Cynic's robotic detachment leave a sour taste in my mouth.

Caffa - Mental Enslavement | Transylvanian Tapes | Death/Doom Metal | United States
Y'all like old Autopsy? Did you, like me, find Autopsy's reunion fun at first, only to be left sorely disappointed by all of their post-reunion recorded material? Don't you wish they just made one song which approached the glory of "In the Grip of Winter"? Bay Area doomed death metallers Caffa certainly approach that sought-after benchmark.

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